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'Sugary drink tax' would save lives and raise money: Australian research

Editor: Li Xiang 丨Xinhua

04-14-2016 15:48 BJT

CANBERRA, April 14 (Xinhua) -- A 20-percent tax on sugary drinks in Australia would save thousands of lives and prevent unnecessary cases of diabetes and heart disease, research published on Thursday has revealed.

The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) said by introducing a similar sugary drinks tax to the one brought in by the government in the UK, Australians would not only lead healthier lives, but the government would raise revenue and cut spending in the healthcare sector.

Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the OPC, said after the first 25 years of a tax being implemented, there would be 16,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes diagnosed throughout Australia. In turn, the tax would also contribute to lessening the risk of heart disease (4,400 fewer cases) and stroke (1,100 cases).

Martin said the 20 percent tax would eventually save the lives of thousands of Australians by discouraging the consumption of sugary drinks - something she said would lessen the risk of obesity.

"Australians consume large quantities of sugary drinks - in fact, sugary drinks are the largest contributor of added sugar in our diets," Martin said in a statement on Thursday.

"But with 16 teaspoons of sugar in a 600-ml bottle of soft drink, regular consumption is directly linked with weight gain and overweight and obesity, which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers."

"As with tobacco control, using tax to increase price is an effective lever to deter people from products that pose risks to their health. This paper shows that adding a 20 percent tax to the price of sugary drinks can reduce consumption."

Martin added there would be very little cost involved for the government if it decided to impose a sugar tax on soft drinks, and said it would both generate millions of dollars in revenue and save millions of dollars in spending in the healthcare sector.

"A 20 percent tax on sugary drinks will generate an estimated 300 million U.S. dollars in revenue each year and reduce our healthcare costs by as much as 360 million U.S. dollars over 25 years," Martin said.

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